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1.  A Novel Mechanism for CTCF in the Epigenetic Regulation of Bax in Breast Cancer Cells12 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2013;15(8):898-912.
We previously reported the association of elevated levels of the multifunctional transcription factor, CCCTC binding factor (CTCF), in breast cancer cells with the specific anti-apoptotic function of CTCF. To understand the molecular mechanisms of this phenomenon, we investigated regulation of the human Bax gene by CTCF in breast and non-breast cells. Two CTCF binding sites (CTSs) within the Bax promoter were identified. In all cells, breast and non-breast, active histone modifications were present at these CTSs, DNA harboring this region was unmethylated, and levels of Bax mRNA and protein were similar. Nevertheless, up-regulation of Bax mRNA and protein and apoptotic cell death were observed only in breast cancer cells depleted of CTCF. We proposed that increased CTCF binding to the Bax promoter in breast cancer cells, by comparison with non-breast cells, may be mechanistically linked to the specific apoptotic phenotype in CTCF-depleted breast cancer cells. In this study, we show that CTCF binding was enriched at the Bax CTSs in breast cancer cells and tumors; in contrast, binding of other transcription factors (SP1, WT1, EGR1, and c-Myc) was generally increased in non-breast cells and normal breast tissues. Our findings suggest a novel mechanism for CTCF in the epigenetic regulation of Bax in breast cancer cells, whereby elevated levels of CTCF support preferential binding of CTCF to the Bax CTSs. In this context, CTCF functions as a transcriptional repressor counteracting influences of positive regulatory factors; depletion of breast cancer cells from CTCF therefore results in the activation of Bax and apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC3730042  PMID: 23908591
2.  Mutational Analysis of the Poly(ADP-Ribosyl)ation Sites of the Transcription Factor CTCF Provides an Insight into the Mechanism of Its Regulation by Poly(ADP-Ribosyl)ation ▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2009;30(5):1199-1216.
Poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation of the conserved multifunctional transcription factor CTCF was previously identified as important to maintain CTCF insulator and chromatin barrier functions. However, the molecular mechanism of this regulation and also the necessity of this modification for other CTCF functions remain unknown. In this study, we identified potential sites of poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation within the N-terminal domain of CTCF and generated a mutant deficient in poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation. Using this CTCF mutant, we demonstrated the requirement of poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation for optimal CTCF function in transcriptional activation of the p19ARF promoter and inhibition of cell proliferation. By using a newly generated isogenic insulator reporter cell line, the CTCF insulator function at the mouse Igf2-H19 imprinting control region (ICR) was found to be compromised by the CTCF mutation. The association and simultaneous presence of PARP-1 and CTCF at the ICR, confirmed by single and serial chromatin immunoprecipitation assays, were found to be independent of CTCF poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation. These results suggest a model of CTCF regulation by poly(ADP-ribosyl)ation whereby CTCF and PARP-1 form functional complexes at sites along the DNA, producing a dynamic reversible modification of CTCF. By using bioinformatics tools, numerous sites of CTCF and PARP-1 colocalization were demonstrated, suggesting that such regulation of CTCF may take place at the genome level.
doi:10.1128/MCB.00827-09
PMCID: PMC2820893  PMID: 20038529
3.  Somatically acquired hypomethylation of IGF2 in breast and colorectal cancer 
Human Molecular Genetics  2008;17(17):2633-2643.
The imprinted insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF2) gene is expressed predominantly from the paternal allele. Loss of imprinting (LOI) associated with hypomethylation at the promoter proximal sequence (DMR0) of the IGF2 gene was proposed as a predisposing constitutive risk biomarker for colorectal cancer. We used pyrosequencing to assess whether IGF2 DMR0 methylation is either present constitutively prior to cancer or whether it is acquired tissue-specifically after the onset of cancer. DNA samples from tumour tissues and matched non-tumour tissues from 22 breast and 42 colorectal cancer patients as well as peripheral blood samples obtained from colorectal cancer patients [SEARCH (n=case 192, controls 96)], breast cancer patients [ABC (n=case 364, controls 96)] and the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer [EPIC-Norfolk (n=breast 228, colorectal 225, controls 895)] were analysed. The EPIC samples were collected 2–5 years prior to diagnosis of breast or colorectal cancer. IGF2 DMR0 methylation levels in tumours were lower than matched non-tumour tissue. Hypomethylation of DMR0 was detected in breast (33%) and colorectal (80%) tumour tissues with a higher frequency than LOI indicating that methylation levels are a better indicator of cancer than LOI. In the EPIC population, the prevalence of IGF2 DMR0 hypomethylation was 9.5% and this correlated with increased age not cancer risk. Thus, IGF2 DMR0 hypomethylation occurs as an acquired tissue-specific somatic event rather than a constitutive innate epimutation. These results indicate that IGF2 DMR0 hypomethylation has diagnostic potential for colon cancer rather than value as a surrogate biomarker for constitutive LOI.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddn163
PMCID: PMC2515372  PMID: 18541649
4.  CTCF Interacts with and Recruits the Largest Subunit of RNA Polymerase II to CTCF Target Sites Genome-Wide▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;27(5):1631-1648.
CTCF is a transcription factor with highly versatile functions ranging from gene activation and repression to the regulation of insulator function and imprinting. Although many of these functions rely on CTCF-DNA interactions, it is an emerging realization that CTCF-dependent molecular processes involve CTCF interactions with other proteins. In this study, we report the association of a subpopulation of CTCF with the RNA polymerase II (Pol II) protein complex. We identified the largest subunit of Pol II (LS Pol II) as a protein significantly colocalizing with CTCF in the nucleus and specifically interacting with CTCF in vivo and in vitro. The role of CTCF as a link between DNA and LS Pol II has been reinforced by the observation that the association of LS Pol II with CTCF target sites in vivo depends on intact CTCF binding sequences. “Serial” chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) analysis revealed that both CTCF and LS Pol II were present at the β-globin insulator in proliferating HD3 cells but not in differentiated globin synthesizing HD3 cells. Further, a single wild-type CTCF target site (N-Myc-CTCF), but not the mutant site deficient for CTCF binding, was sufficient to activate the transcription from the promoterless reporter gene in stably transfected cells. Finally, a ChIP-on-ChIP hybridization assay using microarrays of a library of CTCF target sites revealed that many intergenic CTCF target sequences interacted with both CTCF and LS Pol II. We discuss the possible implications of our observations with respect to plausible mechanisms of transcriptional regulation via a CTCF-mediated direct link of LS Pol II to the DNA.
doi:10.1128/MCB.01993-06
PMCID: PMC1820452  PMID: 17210645
5.  Mutation of a Single CTCF Target Site within the H19 Imprinting Control Region Leads to Loss of Igf2 Imprinting and Complex Patterns of De Novo Methylation upon Maternal Inheritance 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(8):3497-3504.
The differentially methylated imprinting control region (ICR) region upstream of the H19 gene regulates allelic Igf2 expression by means of a methylation-sensitive chromatin insulator function. We have previously shown that maternal inheritance of mutated (three of the four) target sites for the 11-zinc finger protein CTCF leads to loss of Igf2 imprinting. Here we show that a mutation in only CTCF site 4 also leads to robust activation of the maternal Igf2 allele despite a noticeably weaker interaction in vitro of site 4 DNA with CTCF compared to other ICR sites, sites 1 and 3. Moreover, maternally inherited sites 1 to 3 become de novo methylated in complex patterns in subpopulations of liver and heart cells with a mutated site 4, suggesting that the methylation privilege status of the maternal H19 ICR allele requires an interdependence between all four CTCF sites. In support of this conclusion, we show that CTCF molecules bind to each other both in vivo and in vitro, and we demonstrate strong interaction between two CTCF-DNA complexes, preassembled in vitro with sites 3 and 4. We propose that the CTCF sites may cooperate to jointly maintain both methylation-free status and insulator properties of the maternal H19 ICR allele. Considering many other CTCF targets, we propose that site-specific interactions between various DNA-bound CTCF molecules may provide general focal points in the organization of looped chromatin domains involved in gene regulation.
doi:10.1128/MCB.24.8.3497-3504.2004
PMCID: PMC381662  PMID: 15060168
6.  Functional Phosphorylation Sites in the C-Terminal Region of the Multivalent Multifunctional Transcriptional Factor CTCF 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2001;21(6):2221-2234.
CTCF is a widely expressed and highly conserved multi-Zn-finger (ZF) nuclear factor. Binding to various CTCF target sites (CTSs) is mediated by combinatorial contributions of different ZFs. Different CTSs mediate distinct CTCF functions in transcriptional regulation, including promoter repression or activation and hormone-responsive gene silencing. In addition, the necessary and sufficient core sequences of diverse enhancer-blocking (insulator) elements, including CpG methylation-sensitive ones, have recently been pinpointed to CTSs. To determine whether a posttranslational modification may modulate CTCF functions, we studied CTCF phosphorylation. We demonstrated that most of the modifications that occur at the carboxy terminus in vivo can be reproduced in vitro with casein kinase II (CKII). Major modification sites map to four serines within the S604KKEDS609S610DS612E motif that is highly conserved in vertebrates. Specific mutations of these serines abrogate phosphorylation of CTCF in vivo and CKII-induced phosphorylation in vitro. In addition, we showed that completely preventing phosphorylation by substituting all serines within this site resulted in markedly enhanced repression of the CTS-bearing vertebrate c-myc promoters, but did not alter CTCF nuclear localization or in vitro DNA-binding characteristics assayed with c-myc CTSs. Moreover, these substitutions manifested a profound effect on negative cell growth regulation by wild-type CTCF. CKII may thus be responsible for attenuation of CTCF activity, either acting on its own or by providing the signal for phosphorylation by other kinases and for CTCF-interacting protein partners.
doi:10.1128/MCB.21.6.2221-2234.2001
PMCID: PMC86856  PMID: 11238955
7.  Combinatorial interaction between two human serotonin transporter gene variable number tandem repeats and their regulation by CTCF 
Journal of Neurochemistry  2010;112(1):296-306.
Two distinct variable number tandem repeats (VNTRs) within the human serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) have been implicated as predisposing factors for CNS disorders. The linked polymorphic region in the 5′-promoter exists as short (s) and long (l) alleles of a 22 or 23 bp elements. The second within intron 2 (Stin2) exists as three variants containing 9, 10 or 12 copies of a 16 or 17 bp element. These VNTRs, individually or in combination, supported differential reporter gene expression in rat neonate prefrontal cortical cultures. The level of reporter gene activity from the dual VNTR constructs indicated combinatorial action between the two domains. Chromatin immunoprecipitation demonstrated that both these VNTR domains can bind the CCCTC-binding factor and this correlated with the ability of exogenously supplied CCCTC-binding factor to modulate the expression supported by these reporter gene constructs. We suggest that the potential for interaction between multiple polymorphic domains should be incorporated into genetic association studies.
J. Neurochem. (2010) 112, 296–306.
doi:10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.06453.x
PMCID: PMC2848977  PMID: 19860858
behaviour; CCCTC-binding factor; human serotonin transporter; polymorphism; variable number tandem repeat

Results 1-7 (7)